Novavax on the way as AMA starts campaign

(AP Photo/Alastair Grant)

Federal health authorities are hoping the availability of the Novavax COVID-19 vaccine from Monday will inject new momentum into the program.

Official figures show 93.9 per cent of Australians over 16 are double-dosed, but the second-dose rate is below this mark in Western Australia, Queensland, South Australia, the Northern Territory and Victoria.

Some people have been holding off getting vaccinated until the protein-based Novavax was approved and rolled out.

The push comes as the Australian Medical Association launches a new campaign aimed at putting public hospital funding on the federal election agenda.

The initiative will highlight the impact of hospital logjams around the country, involve “disturbing testimony from frontline ED doctors” and encourage Australians to vote on the issue at the upcoming federal poll.

Novavax will be made available at GP clinics, community pharmacies and state-run vaccine clinics.

The first batches of the vaccine arrived in Australia earlier this week, with the government having purchased 51 million doses.

“Despite high vaccination rates in Australia, there has been demand for a protein-based formula. For some people, the arrival of Novavax will be the extra push they need to get their first jab,” Health Minister Greg Hunt said.

It comes as pandemic emergency measures were extended until April 17.

Emergency requirements will continue, including restrictions on outbound travel for unvaccinated Australians, mandatory pre-departure and mask wearing for international travel, and restrictions on cruise ships entering the country.

Other measures include implementing restrictions to protect remote communities in the Northern Territory and preventing price gouging of rapid antigen tests.

Mr Hunt said the extension was necessary due to the wave of Omicron cases, but could be revoked should the health advice change before then.

While the measures continue to restrict cruise ships from entering Australia, an agreement at Thursday’s national cabinet meeting has paved the way for cruises resuming, once a deal is struck with the states and industry on safety measures.

Following 48 deaths from COVID-19 Australia-wide that were reported on Friday, NSW announced a further 32 fatalities on Saturday, along with 8183 new virus cases.

Victoria has reported 19 new deaths for the 24 hours to Saturday, along with 7224 infections. 


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